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Twenty to 30 years for youngest of five in Hudson homicides

May 8, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The youngest defendant in the case of a double homicide in Hudson was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison Thursday in a hearing laced with emotion at Lander District Court.

He was convicted in January of second-degree murder for his actions with three adult defendants in the deaths on Nov. 15, 2011.

Prosecutors originally charged the defendant, Jude Blackburn, 17, with nine crimes slayings of Elva Charlotte Quiver, 20, and Eric Likes, 42, of Hudson. Former deputy county attorney Patrick LeBrun agreed to lower the charges in exchange for a guilty plea in January, and both sides concurred on the 20-to-30-year sentence.

"This plea agreement is appropriate and I'm going to...sentence him accordingly," District Court Judge Young told the courtroom filled with family of the victims and the defendant.

He considered what he called extensive reports on Blackburn including psychiatric evaluations the general public is not allowed to view.

"The court has to say 'you're going to have to trust me on this one,'" Young said.

Earlier, Likes's brother asked for a sentence of life in prison for Blackburn. The penalty for second-degree murder is 20 years to life in prison.

"I would like this gentleman here to get the most time possible," Brian Likes said before turning to the defendant. "The only way I want to see you get out of jail is in a... body bag."

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said the sentence set out in the plea agreement was appropriate, noting that the law treats juveniles differently from adults because of their immaturity.

"This is the law, and this is how we treat juveniles in the United States. We don't kill them, and we don't give them mandatory life without parole," he said.

Bennett asked for a sentence of 20 to 30 years.

Blackburn's public defender, Robert Stepans, asked for a lighter sentence of 20 to 25 years in prison.

"I believe that is a firm recognition of Jude's role in this, and it also gives him an opportunity to demonstrate that this moment in time, as terrible as it was, doesn't define him," Stepans said.

Before he received his sentence, Blackburn apologized.

"I just want to say sorry to the victims' families, and I hope that they can forgive me. I didn't mean for it to happen, and I wish I could take back what I did," Blackburn said.

In the sentence of 20 to 30 years, Young sided with the prosecutors in the case. He also ordered Blackburn to pay $3,200 in restitution and gave the defendant credit for time served, which amounts to nearly 2.5 years.

Prosecutors believe that late in the night of Nov. 15, 2011, or the next morning, Joseph Jude Jenkins, who was 20, of Arapahoe, and Laziur Stephen Hanway Jr., who was 19, of Ethete, entered Likes's and Quiver's trailer home in Hudson, and that Blackburn, 15 at the time, stayed outside. Jenkins is Blackburn's uncle.

Jenkins and Hanway, Jenkins's brother-in-law, attacked Likes, causing injuries that would have killed him, according to prosecutors, but the victim was still alive when Blackburn went in the trailer and struck him in the head with a dresser drawer.

The fourth defendant, Samantha June Hanway, who was 20, of Ethete, reportedly drove the killers to the victims' home.

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